This story was updated on Sept. 26, 2012.
A Herndon defense contractor, his wife and the family’s two sons were found dead in their Floris area home Tuesday, after the father reportedly shot them before turning the gun on himself, according to Fairfax County Police.
The bodies of Albert Peterson, 57; Kathleen Peterson, 52; and their sons Matthew, 16, and Chris, 13, were discovered in the home shortly after noon Tuesday.
Police said they were called out to the home in the 13300 block of Point Rider Lane because Albert Peterson had not shown up for work for several days.
“Police were called out at 10:37 a.m. for a welfare check,” said police spokesman Bud Walker.
The family additionally was identified by Floris United Methodist Church Minister Tom Berlin, who posted a notice on the church’s website.
“Today we learned of a tragedy in our community ...” the notice reads. “The Peterson family has attended Floris and their son, Chris, attended our recent Road Rules event with our student ministry.
“Many of you will know this family,” the note continued. “Their sons were students at Rachel Carson Middle School and Westfield High School and played soccer, as well as participating in other events in the community ...”
A candlelight vigil was staged Wednesday evening at the church.
Neighbors in the quiet neighborhood directly across from Frying Pan Farm Park were in shock Tuesday, as several media outlets swarmed the Peterson house for several hours.
Jeremy Wilcox, who lives down the street, said he often would wave at Albert Peterson on his way home from work in the afternoon.
“Four out of five times a week he’d be sitting there on his porch and wave,” Wilcox said. “That was the extent of our relationship, but he’d be there waving almost every day. I waved to him just this past Friday, and there he was, waving back.”
Wilcox said in the winter Albert Peterson often would attach a snow plow to the Ford F-350 pickup truck that sat in front of the Peterson home Tuesday, and plow the neighborhood streets for everyone.
“And at Halloween, he and his family gave out great Halloween candy,” Wilcox added.
Other neighbors had equal praise for the family.
“Kathie is … I mean … was … a great mother,” said one tearful neighbor who declined to be identified. “She loved those boys and doted on them.”
Albert Peterson was described by many neighbors to have been a defense contractor who worked for many local contracting agencies. Online, his name is primarily associated with defense firm Blackbird Technologies. Calls made to the contractor were not returned.
Kathleen Peterson is identified online as the owner of Kathie’s Office Products and Supply, Inc., which lists the Peterson’s home as a business address.
Matthew Peterson, 16, was a sophomore at Westfield High School.
“Approximately 300 to 400 of our students gathered around the flag poles in an impressive display of unity and spirit,” wrote Westfield Principal Tim Thomas in an email sent to parents on Wednesday. “Everyone reported to class at 7:20 a.m. and shortly thereafter, I made a PA announcement to acknowledge the information that has been shared in the media and to provide students (and staff) with information that would help them to cope with their feelings of sadness and grief.”
Chris Peterson, 13, was an eighth-grader at Rachel Carson Middle school who played soccer.
“I'm sure you've heard about the Herndon family found dead in their home this afternoon — the mom, dad, and two sons. It is the Peterson family, and the youngest son, Chris, was on Dudley Hawkin's Rovers South team,” read an email sent out by the Herndon Premier soccer team to its members on Tuesday. A gold-colored minivan parked on the Peterson’s driveway Tuesday proudly displayed many soccer team stickers.
Both neighbors and police are baffled as to what might have motivated the family members’ deaths.
According to the Associated Press, in November 2000, four members of another Herndon family died in their family home when a 47-year-old man shot his wife and two young daughters before killing himself.